Guest blog by LSE alumna Sarah-Stephanie Skjoldevik:
When I was growing up, none of my friends dreamt about becoming entrepreneurs. The focus of our dreams was more in the fields of ballerinas and firemen. We simply were unaware of the option to go out and approach the world through an untraditional career path. If you have a mind that constantly wants to ‘fix things’, a mind that comes up with new and better solutions for existing problems, then it is highly likely that you too are suited to entrepreneurship.
As I was completing my master’s in International Relations at LSE last year, an event caught my attention: “Inspiring women to become entrepreneurs” by the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF). This event gathered a panel of female entrepreneurs that had all ‘made it’; they had successfully set up their own businesses. Stating that I was inspired afterwards would be an understatement – I had seen the light! From then, I was motivated to apply for the NEF programme. After successfully completing the selection process, I was inducted into NEF’s network.
NEF collaborates with the brightest minds in Britain’s business community in order to turn us into the next generation of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial leaders. Alongside a paid work placement with a highly entrepreneurial company, paired by NEF, I have the honour of working with a highly experienced coach and personal mentor, who helps me develop my field of entrepreneurial interest. We also receive exclusive educational support by NEF and are given extra leave to attend training and speaker events. Every month we have training events at University College London (UCL), investigating topics like funding, finance and customer acquisition. Additionally, NEF organises monthly speaker events on relevant topics.
I must admit that the programme is different from what I expected – my hopes have been exceeded. It does not do the programme justice to simply read about it, one has to experience it. NEF is not about developing companies, but about developing the people behind them to create entrepreneurial leaders. Meanwhile, the NEF infrastructure allows us to work on our own business ideas in a safe environment, reducing risk and the fear of failure that often holds back innovation. What happens if one simply does not end up becoming an entrepreneur? It doesn’t matter, because everything we have learnt through NEF is just as useful in any other leadership role.
But I must say that the most important aspect for me has been the people. Some of the greatest minds I have met are part of the NEF community. This includes my cohort, previous fellows, host companies, the NEF team, coaches and mentors. If you want to join our entrepreneurial community why not apply to be part of our next cohort?